Data on the power of imagination stunned researchers. They found that imagining an act engages the same motor and sensory programs in the brain that are involved in actually performing the act. Imagination is not some ethereal, immaterial entity, cut off from the material brain, as we are used to thinking about it. Rather, everything our immaterial mind imagines leaves material traces, a physical signature in the brain. One of the early experiments on this phenomenon was done by Alvero Pasccual-Leone of Harvard Medical School. He taught groups of people how to play a passage on notes on the piano. One group was taught on the piano, two hours a day for five days. The other group learned to play in their imagination; they similarly rehearsed two hours a day for five days, but the rehearsal was only mental. The mental practice produced the same brain changes and the same level of accuracy of playing as the actual practice.
All of us practice mental rehearsal. Students do it when they are studying for a test; adults do it when they are preparing for a presentation. But because few of us do it systematically, we underestimate its effectiveness. In the Imagercize exercises, we use our imagination to unleash previously unused powers of our brain. Because so much of so many of our adult lives involve rote and routine procedures, for many, this is the most fun part of the Brainercize™ program.